“How many people can honestly say they’re living their dream?” Jonathon Lupica’s enthusiasm for gelato is palpable. He opened Little Red Wolf Artisan Gelato & Desserts in Glebe just four months ago, though his passion for gelato started long before that. While Jonathon has worked for ice cream businesses like Ben & Jerry’s, he attributes his interest in gelato to childhood visits to a family friend’s gelato store in Newtown.
Little Red Wolf has slotted into an existing gelato spot formerly occupied by Grand Gelato on busy Glebe Point Road. “I fell in love with the shop frontage before I even looked at the business,” Jonathon explains.
While the big curved bay windows aren’t original, the site does have historical significance as the site of the former Glebe Hotel, an 1864 Victorian era hotel located right in the retail strip.
Moving into an existing gelateria certainly has some advantages. The gelato-making equipment came as part of the sale, though Jonathon explains he’s quickly outgrown his churner! He’s making a sixty-litre batch of his base while we’re talking – something he does four times a week. The blend of rich Jersey milk, sugar and cream smells like memory – it reminds me of the old-fashioned custards my grandmother made.
From there it goes into the freezer in buckets for a period before it is ready to be churned into 4.5L flavours one at a time in his small churning machine. You can view this process through the same window he uses to watch the little store, which has suddenly become flooded with high school students.
With a waiting bus, Jonathon makes short work of dispensing their icy treats as they choose from the colourful display inside his curved glass counter. He's using a gelato spatula, rather than the simpler to use ice cream scoop, because he likes the theatre of shaping gelato into cup or cone. Jonathon is helped along by a contactless Square card reader that allows for super fast payments, though a waiting teacher injects some anxiety into the eagerly waiting hoard.
About a third of the display space is given over to sorbet that will likely reduce as we bid fond farewell to Sydney’s warmer weather. The rest of the freezer real estate is taken up with an eclectic mix of gelato flavours, running from Italian classics like Zuppa Inglese (Italians bagging out the English for their trifle) to crowd pleasers like salted caramel and Nutella.
Some flavours like the sugar-free Stevia-based blueberry sorbet and the Gaytime-inspired Love Is Love, speak specifically to the interests of the area. The store already has a strong vegan following, so vegans will always find flavours to enjoy.
Other flavours like Dutch Speculaas, tell you more about the store owner - this one is based upon his favourite spiced biscuit. You’ll also find Jonathon putting his own stamp on the pistachio, which is laced with rosewater, a nod to his childhood influences growing up in Western Sydney.
After tasting my way through the counter – Jonathon is a very patient man – I settle upon You’ll Never Go Back in a Lone Wolf ($5). I take my single scoop of this black, coconut and activated charcoal gelato in a cup. This flavour is made from coconut water, cocoa, and coconut milk powder that gives it a toasted coconut flavour I wasn’t expecting, something like eating a Coconut Rough. It's rich and milky, leaving you with the sense of having drunk a glass of whole milk. There’s good palate length to the gelato without it overstaying its welcome, or leaving your mouth furry. This roughly shapen cup of gelato keeps my spoon returning until I’ve finished the whole serve.
“I want to show people you can expand and grow a business without compromising quality,” adds Jonathon. He’s certainly made a solid start towards that mission here in Glebe.
Little Red Wolf Artisan Gelato & Desserts
Shop 2, 37 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (0421) 809 186